The Complete Education Portal


Coping with the Challenges of New Age Parenting

In a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world parents are grappling with challenges that never existed before. And new problems can't be dealt with old solutions. 

"For any examination, students have to undertake rigorous preparation, practice with mock question papers and do revisions. Imagine a situation where the students don't know what the syllabus is and what sort of questions to expect. People become parents by choice and are thrown at the deep end and figure out how to go about," according to Dr Pulkit Khanna, Associate Professor and Executive Dean of Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences. 

Children the Epicentre

Indian society whether patriarchal or matriarchal followed a joint family system in which brothers and sisters stayed together in a large house. The head of the family had a powerful influence over other members of the household and enforced discipline and code of conduct. With nuclearisation of families, children have become the epicentre. Influenced by peers and mass media, they decide what type of food to eat, TV channel to be viewed, the normal shopping pattern and other priorities of the family, according to Prof Sanjose A Thomas, Head of Department of Sociology at Sacred Heart College, Kochi.

Adapt and Reinvent

Parents will have to adapt, reinvent and change themselves every day to answer the questions posed by their children and guide them for an uncertain tomorrow according to Asha Iyer Kumar, well-known author, writing coach and columnist in Dubai. "We draw from our own experiences of the past, the way we were raised, from the lessons we learnt, but they are all old syllabus," she said. "The world is anything but brave, there is fear embedded everywhere, fear of loss, deprivation, invasion. Therefore, impart that bravery in children through parenting, for that the parents need to be brave."

Child-Parent Communication

Prof Sanjose A Thomas recounted an incident where a student was slipping in studies and when her father was called for a discussion, he said it was seven months since she talked to his daughter. She retreats to her private space returning from college and interacts only with friends. She comes out only for food and refrain from talking to parents. "What is happening to my child?," the parent is worried.  There is considerable degree of anonymity, risk and complexity as teenagers get exposed to people admiring and following them on social media, according to Prof Sanjose Thomas. Our culture and society has transformed in such a way that children have become risk-oriented and vulnerable to influences and lacking in resilience too.

Dr Roy Abraham Kallivayalil, Head of Department of Psychiatry at Pushpagiri Medical College Hospital, Kerala recalled an incident where a college student was run over by a bus. The bus driver was booked for negligent driving. However, he pleaded guilty and said the boy had jumped before the bus. On questioning the boy, it was revealed that the boy was disillusioned because of poor academic performance and not able to catch up with siblings in the family. And he had no one in the family to talk about his issues and problems.  According to official data, drug abuse and suicides poses the second major risk of mortality in children. 

Anupama Ramachandra, Principal, DPS Electronic City, Bengaluru pointed out that students are unwilling to speak to teachers or school leadership unless they are assured that it won't be communicated to parents. Why is that children do not trust their parents and share their inner most weaknesses, failures, anxieties only with a counsellor, teacher or Principal, she asks.  

Mridula Praveen, leading educator and principal (Former Principal of Craft World School in Ernakulam, Kerala), now based in Dubai pointed out that parents need to grow with the child and learn new skills in parenting.  Parenting lacks a unique syllabus that mirrors the educational paradigm also where standardised approaches fail to address the unique needs of the student.

Are you a Successful Parent?

Dr Pulkit Khanna : Each one of us have to find for ourselves what is successful parenting. Are you looking at protecting your child from every roadblock, or do you want them to grow as independent thinking individuals who can take on challenges, or are you raising a super person who is top of the class, get good salary, a good career? Depending on what each one seeks, the definitions change. With structure of family changing, parent-child relationship changing, there is a need to come back to the drawing board, atleast question some of the status quo. The idea is not to throw the baby with the bathwater, there is much to be gained from going back to the basics. We may rely on the wisdom of the past, but question some of the outdated beliefs and practices that may not be in sync with the current socio-cultural situation. Parents need to listen to their children, get insights into the vocabulary they use, to understand them better and make meaningful interventions. 

Dr Roy Abraham Kallivayalil: Which is the most important stage in an individual's life? It is not teenage, adulthood or retirement but from birth to five years of age. That is when the important values of love, kindness, empathy, morality, understanding and communication skills are developed in the child.  Hence it is parents who lay the foundation of the development of the personality of the child. The second phase of development ends by age 12 and there is very little that can be done to a child to correct his or her behaviour after that age.

Anupama Ramachandra: If a child is showing aggression or disrespect, he is seeing it somewhere, most probably at home itself. Children don’t come with any preconceived notions and are influenced by their surroundings. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. Parents have to be role models in whatever qualities they are expecting in a child. Although parents may have differences of opinion on many matters, they should walk the same direction when it comes to parenting. Firmness and consistency are important in parenting and each child is unique. A younger child may require a different type of upbringing compared to the elder one. Children are true blessings of a family and there is no one size fits all approach to parenting. It is important not to copy or follow someone blindly. Keep your parenting style unique.

Mridula Praveen: I had relocated from India to Dubai and I am on a sabbatical from my Principal's role in a school. Since the start of her education, my daughter has been with me in school till Grade IV. Now she is going to school without me for the first time. Now she is asking lot of questions which comes from the insecurity of going to an unfamiliar environment. I am preparing her, empowering her and giving her the freedom to be herself from the moment she steps out of the house. Now she has to tackle all the struggles on her own. 

Successful parenting in modern era is about growing along with the child as a parent. Just as a single child becomes the epicentre of a nuclear family, its influence can be seen when they come to the classrooms too. The task of parenting is to constantly prepare, empower children to face the uncertainties and challenges in life and give them the freedom to be themselves. Parents have to keep learning new skills, embracing the imperfections, vulnerabilities   Children should have the confidence to communicate or express themselves whether they are saying is right or wrong. They may paint the sky black or the elephant purple, and let's not put our preconceived notions on our children. 


Go to index page »


Please email us: